Réserve Naturelle’s administration board members and park rangers pose for a photo at the gathering for the new year wishes.
MARIGOT–Réserve Naturelle Director Nicolas Maslach has said the population must understand and accept the fragility of nature and re-think our way of living and acting to face the future challenges of climate change.
“Irma has shown us that nature can regain its rights in a violent, swift way, no matter where and when and regardless of many people are affected,” he said. “It is therefore with care, respect and humility in front of this capacity of nature to unleash the elements that we must rethink our living environment and our way of acting on this island territory of St. Martin, this beautiful island which is ours.
“We must understand and accept its fragility in the face of these elements and the challenges that still lie ahead in view of the barely visible effects of climate change today.”
Maslach was talking at the presentation of the Réserve’s new year wishes at a gathering at the Sol et Luna Restaurant in Mont Vernon where members of the Réserve’s administration board and members of the media were present.
He noted in 17 years, the Réserve has built up a close-knit team with all members fully committed to their missions.
“We have experienced joys and sorrows, a few transient defeats that we overcame but also victories that we are proud of. We have developed new areas of scientific activity through numerous regional and international collaborations, we have innovated by creating regulatory tools that now allow us to generate almost 50% of cash flow from our global budget, we have also innovated by creating underwater artificial habitats, coral nurseries, and participating in beacon programmes on turtles and humpback whales.
“We are also innovating by creating new partnerships with SEMSAMR for the Caribbean Institute of Biodiversity, with Veolia for the recovery of marine biodiversity and with NAGICO for the improvement of knowledge on humpback whale populations. It has taken us time to adapt, but with hard work, awareness, discussion and sometimes regulatory constraints, offences and misdemeanours are clearly decreasing.”
He said objectives for the year 2018 in terms of policing nature are already defined and missions of monitoring and awareness raising will continue with respect to the health of ponds and marine spaces.
“Even if the outcome of our mission remains imperfect, it is clear the presence of the nature reserve in St. Martin benefits the greatest number of people. It is the people of St. Martin in the first place who appreciate preserved sites in unspoilt natural areas where everyone can come to recharge their batteries and draw strength from the tranquillity we all need.
“More and more visitors are enjoying the natural spaces and facilities dedicated to the observation of fauna and flora, thus promoting the economic development of our territory.
“We are still working tirelessly despite the difficulties and hazards of life to create the Caribbean Institute of Island Biodiversity which proposes: unprecedented economic development opportunities; real technological innovations aimed at the creation of aquaculture sectors, strategic considerations and proposals for the sustainable development of our territory and a new tourism offering that does not yet exist in our regional environment.
“Indeed, the institute, conceived well before Irma, matches well to the Collectivité’s new sustainable development project. In my opinion it is an essential component of President Daniel Gibbs’s Phoenix project.
“Most of our facilities were destroyed or damaged last September, our offices no longer exist and we now need to rebuild and rethink how we move forward. Raising awareness of the need to respect the integrity of the coastline and pond areas should be easier from now on, as everyone has recently realised it is not possible to do as we please near the sea or ponds.
“St. Martin is our island, our home, the place where we live with our families and friends; understanding and accepting this fragility is already a step towards more wisdom in our reflections on land use planning and the management of our natural resources, but it is also and above all the means of giving our island a capacity for resistance and resilience.
“So, it is in this spirit that step by step we will continue our missions, we will innovate again and again, we will propose, and we will re-arrange our sites for a better reception of the public, hoping from now on to be better understood by all as to our intentions.
“We work for the good of the people, for their well-being and for the improvement of their living conditions; we are working on the management of the natural resources of St. Martin. We are also working for tomorrow and for the next generation, who will also experience dark times like us, but who, with our experience and heritage, will also be able to show their resilience over a future that unfortunately remains uncertain. “